Thursday, December 30, 2010

Port-au-Prince - 12/30/10

Today didn’t start as early as the other days. I got some good sleep and woke up at 8:00am. We got some breakfast and James and I started our day going to meet with a group in an area called Repatriation. It’s a group that helps support women in the community. It focuses on helping women know how to treat the water they get to ensure they don’t get any diseases from their water, they have also worked to help some of the women learn how to sign their names on official documents. They also do clinics with new mothers teaching them how to breast feed and provide the proper nutrition for themselves and their babies. It was a great organization with very dedicated and helpful people. They were very appreciative of our visit and all that we are trying to accomplish with our project. After filming an interview with them and taking some photos of their new mother clinics we loaded up the car and started to drive away. Unfortunately, for the third time in four days, the front tire was completely flat. We didn’t have a jack that worked and our spare tire wasn’t good for driving either. For the next hour we waited for someone with a pump to put more air in the tire or fix the leak or something. During this time James and I found some shade and were soon joined by about 15 boys in the area that were very curious to see this Blan who spoke their language. They had a good time asking me questions and wondering why I spoke their language and why my friend didn’t know any Creole. We talked about all sorts of random things and then someone came with a pump and fixed our tire. It never ceases to amaze me how Haitians are always willing and able to help us. It is true that some Haitians may want to take advantage of us or are looking for a handout, but the reality is these people are very helpful. Thinking back to the last time we were in Haiti and the many people who went above and beyond the call of duty to help us it just makes me love the Haitian people that much more.


James was our chauffeur for the day and I was amazed at how well he could handle the traffic and Haitian style of driving. I’m not sure I could do that. After more time in the country I’m sure I could be more comfortable driving here but certainly not after the one week James has been here. James braved the Haitian traffic and brought us safely back to our base camp. We ate a good lunch and then after backing up our our photos and videos we took a nap. The people we’re staying with had their church choir come over for a choir practice and it was interesting to be listening to the music and have it as a soundtrack during the sporadic dreams I had.


Tassy and Tiana returned from their day and we had a good meeting where we discussed our plans for the rest of our trip and what the other members of the team are planning to accomplish while they’re here. It turns out that there is a very good chance I will be going with Tiana to Jacmel for most of the next week. Tiana has taken me under her wing and I will accompany her to shoot some of the projects she has lined up while she’s here in Haiti. Tiana is a very accomplished photojournalist and has visited Haiti several times as well as other parts of the world. I really look forward to working with her and learning from her. I also really can’t wait to get out of Port-au-Prince. The traffic and pollution are less than desirable. I also just feel more comfortable outside of Port-au-Prince. The rest of the night I spent updating this blog and just getting to know Tiana better. I really can’t wait to work with her.

Port-au-Prince - 12/29/10

I had a somewhat rude awakening when Tassy kicked my mattress at 6:30 and asked me what I was doing to earn my keep. He mentioned all of the things James and Hadas had done to help around the house and asked what I had done. Since all I had done was eat and sleep, I really didn’t have much to say for myself. I quickly got dressed and found out that we were leaving that very moment to meet someone for a shoot. I hurriedly got my stuff together, stumbled into my shoes and jumped into the car with Tassy and James and so began my day’s adventure. Tassy is an excellent driver in Haiti which really and truly is a high compliment. The way most of us are familiar with driving in the States would most certainly cause an accident within 5 minutes here in Haiti. Haitians aren’t used to driving with the same rules and regulations that we have in the States. There aren’t speed limits and traffic “lanes” are more guidelines, not strict designations for travel. (I’m reminded of a traffic ticket I got soon after my mission where the traffic violation was “Driving Left of Center”. I can’t imagine trying to explain what that means to a Haitian. They wouldn’t know what is wrong with it!) Everyone is very quick to react to whatever obstacle is introduced in their path. Whether it be a pedestrian, dog, gigantic sewer opening, or another vehicle, they are always quick to avoid it. At first glance it looks like complete chaos but after surviving so many close calls on all fronts, I soon realized that it’s a survival of the fittest. If you want to pass someone or cross traffic then the champion is whoever proves most daring and assertive with their vehicle position. Drivers communicate with a beep of the horn which can mean “I’m passing you,” or “Go Ahead,” or “Get out of my way!” and it all just works. Tassy says that if you can drive in Haiti and Manhattan, New York, you can drive anywhere in the world. He’s probably right.


We actually saw the guy we were planning on seeing on our way across town and found that he wouldn’t be home for another 2 hours. We changed our plans and decided to go to a small tent city next to a hospital in Carrefour. We arrived and found some pretty sad stuff. Lots of people are really mad and frustrated that they hear about the millions of dollars being promised to Haiti to help after the earthquake but they haven’t seen one cent of it. We had difficulty at first trying to find people who would stand in front of our cameras to tell us about what was going on. They talked about the several other journalists who come, take their pictures, and leave. They profit from the poverty and sad situation and don’t change anything. I can completely understand their situation, but that doesn’t really help the fact that the whole reason I had come was to show what Haitians are doing to help one another. If we can’t document what’s going on then what’s the point of us being here? Anyways, we finally got some guys to warm up to us and finally talked on camera for us. Then a bunch more people showed up and we decided to pack up before more people started to gather and draw attention to us.


We headed over to see Francois who is a local political leader and director of a school for the handicapped. He himself has lost both of his hands but he seems to get along just fine. Unfortunately, he had come and gone again before we got there. Hopefully we can make another appointment with him. I know he has a great organization and a great story that is definitely in line with our project. After trying to find some clean food (the risk of Cholera is very real so our Haitian friends take every precaution to make sure we avoid any potential contact with the horrible disease) we ended up making our way back across town so we could meet our next team member Tiana at the airport. We had almost reached our base camp when we drove past a traffic accident that had just happened. A pedestrian had been hit by a passing car and about 35 people had gathered to make quite a commotion. The unfortunate pedestrian had been struck below his calf and was bleeding and yelling in the back of car that hit him. The crowd of people gathered to ensure that the driver wouldn’t run away while the police were coming. James and I got some video of the situation and left when more and more people started gathering. The police did arrive and the driver was being questioned. Tassy drove us back to the house where we got our first meal of the day (it was now noon) and he and James left to pick up Tiana who had been delayed in New York for 3 days due to the blizzard. I stayed back and worked on researching some organizations in Haiti that we’d like include in our project.


They returned almost 2 hours later and we ate again and got to know Tiana better. After dinner Tassy, Tiana, and I went to grab a drink and talk about the project and what we would like to accomplish while we are here. We had a good discussion talking about our goals and how we can accomplish them.


We went back to the house and soon after were met by two guys who direct a small grassroots organization in the area. They pool their own money and resources to arrange food and water distribution and several other things to help many of the tent communities. They had formed before the earthquake but especially after the earthquake their work was needed that much more. They are really great at organizing efforts to put people in the community to work. They feel that there is high value in the work that people can do in their own community. When I asked them what things they needed they talked about the basic needs that we enjoy in the States. Things like patching potholes in the road, or public restrooms where people can use the bathroom while traveling between cities, or even having reliable electricity at night to allow more work to be done after the sun goes down, all are specific things they mentioned that would really help their work improve. It was great to hear such organized and motivated people really making a difference in their own communities. This group is one of many that we are going to feature in the Nap Kenbe Project.


James, Tiana, and some of our other Haitian friends went out to drink but I stayed home to catch up on this blog, take a shower, and get to bed early. Which is what I am doing right now. Until tomorrow!

Port-au-Prince - 12/28/10

So my first and second day of the trip weren’t divided by sleep like most people. I stayed awake and made good friends with a guy from France (who I thought was Haitian). We had an interesting conversation while he spoke broken English and I spoke broken French. We talked about great places to see on vacation and how different the cultures of America, France, and Senegal are. His family is from Senegal and he visits on a fairly regular basis. After talking for a few hours I decided to go sit in front of the Air France ticket office just because there was no way I was going to sleep. It was positively cold in the airport. It was probably 40 degrees outside and maybe 55 degrees inside the airport. I found another man sitting in front of the Air France desk and after quickly discovering that he was Haitian we talked for another hour about how to fix all of Haiti’s problems. We both came to the conclusion that Haiti is so far into its problems that it will take several generations to fix everything. After our long talk we checked in, I grabbed a bite to eat, and then tried to get at least some sleep before my flight. I realize now as I’m writing this that I had been awake for 22 hours. That’s a long day! I got about an hour of sleep before the sun was in my eyes and boarding for the plane was about to begin. I got on the plane and noticed that my window seat was already occupied, leaving the aisle seat available. Normally I would have spoken up and tried to get my window seat since I love looking out the window as we fly into Haiti, but I was too tired to protest. I went through the flight with little conversation and another hour of sleep.


After landing I got off the plane and got my first reminder of the reality of the earthquake last year. The main (and only) terminal was condemned because of the structural damage sustained by the quake. Broken glass, rubble, and cracks running all over the walls was all that was left of the still standing building. It was eerie peering through the doors as I boarded a large bus that took us further down the runway where the makeshift terminal was found. An old American Airlines cargo warehouse has been converted into customs and baggage pick-up. Luggage is laid in neat rows and long lines zigzag around the open space on the floor. After passing two less-than-interested customs workers I was out of the airport with my bags and looking for James Rhodes, the originator of the Nap Kenbe project. He hadn’t arrived yet. I was hounded by countless Haitians attempting to give me an overpriced taxi ride but I told them sternly, “Non, M’ pa bezwen taksi!” “Nope, I don’t need a taxi”. My Creole impressed them and they left me alone after that, discovering that I wasn’t a “Blan Bet” “Dumb White Person” that could be tricked into giving them my valuable American dollars. After waiting about 15 minutes I agreed to use the phone of a friendly (almost too friendly, obviously looking to profit with his “Haitian Hospitality”) Haitian taxi driver named Patrick. James told me that he was 10 minutes away. I took the opportunity to get a SIM card for the phone my buddy Howard let me borrow for my trip. My new found friend Patrick walked me over to the Digicell hut where I could get what I needed. Fortunately, it wasn’t near as expensive as I had feared. $5 got me the SIM card and $10 bought me enough minutes for at least a few days’ use. Patrick gave me the Haitian Hustle and told me about his starving children and how much he helped me and everything. I gave him $10 after talking him down from $30 and found James soon after.


We stopped at a nice Haitian restaurant on the way to the house which is acting as our base camp. (Interesting note, our house is across the street from former-President Aristide’s house. I think that’s kinda cool!) I was reminded of our trip last year when it took 30 minutes for them to bring us water and then another 20 minutes to bring us food. The food was great though. After being stuffed silly we went to the house where I finally got a chance to get some quality sleep. 4 hours later I woke up and got a chance to talk with another member of the Nap Kenbe team, Hadas. This is her first trip to Haiti and she is certainly getting a good dose of how Haiti works. She was trying to go to one of the cities outside of Port-au-Prince and the bus she took ended up stopping and taking everyone back to town after the driver wanted to charge another 10 goudes for the bus fare. She then walked 45 minutes towards another bus stop and was met by Tassy, another one of the Nap Kenbe Project originators. I used the internet for a short period of time and managed to get a short Skype video chat with Karen, Rachel, and a stubborn Everett who wasn’t wanting to sleep. After eating another meal we took a car over to one of Tassy’s friend’s house and I got a chance to get to know Tassy. He lives in Orlando and is a Priest in a church there. He’s a very well known man in the area and nearly everywhere we go he stops to talk to people he knows. He is pretty much the one who has arranged most of our contacts here in Haiti and takes care of transportation for us. After grabbing another mattress for me to sleep on we returned to the house and after my very first genuine Haitian bucket shower I went to bed.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Miami, FL - Monday 12/27

I nearly forgot to make my first blog post on my Haiti trip. I'm currently in the Miami International Airport camping out in front of the Ron Jon Surf Shop just people watching and working on stuff on my computer with the reliable and fast (but not free) internet. I will eventually work on getting some shut eye but with Kenny G and other instrumental artist's renditions of Christmas songs loudly blaring over the intercom AND the TSA announcements in both English and Spanish happening every 5 minutes AND a verbal reminder of what the local time is every 15 minutes AND bright florescent lights as far as the eye can see AND security officers whizzing by on their ridiculous Segways, it will be difficult for sure. Oh, AND I'm still getting over from a pretty wicked cold that left me all sorts of congested. I can't go very far without needing a kleenex or two or five. My descent into Miami made my right ear feel close to bursting with all of the congestion in my sinuses. I can at least hear out of my right ear now, but it still hurts and feels numb and heavy for some reason. Hopefully my flight into Port-au-Prince doesn't leave me as bent out of shape as this flight from Houston to Miami.

For the record, I really do enjoy traveling. Travel was one of the things Karen and I have made a priority in our budget. Even with the significant decrease in our incomes over the last year and a half, we still manage to stuff away about 5% of what we make into an account just for Travel. With that said, I really don't enjoy the traveling part of travel. Or maybe it was just today. Flying when you're sick and congested certainly makes things more difficult and uncomfortable. Oh, right, and I'm 6'4" so it's rare to find an airplane seat this side of Business Class that can comfortably transport anyone taller than 5'10". My knees, feet, and elbows are ALWAYS in someone's personal bubble. Yep, I'm the guy that inspires cringes from travelers who board the plane early and then have to move and rearrange things to accommodate this freak of nature. I'm talking to you 40-year-old-woman-with-her-nose-stuck-in-her-book. I saw the look you gave me. Maybe the part that doomed it from the beginning was when I was going through the security check in Kansas City. I had taken longer packing this morning than planned so everything was running 30 minutes late. We got to the airport and I was hungry so Karen insisted that we run by Starbucks to grab something for me to eat before my flight. My lovely wife of almost 3 years knows that her husband gets very cranky if he doesn't eat for extended periods of time, so, with less than 30 minutes until my scheduled departure, we got some food. We walked half-way through the terminal to Starbucks (we had a gift card so we HAD to go) where I knocked some things over on one of their displays and lost friends real quick, then we walked the other half back to my departure gate. I bought a yogurt parfait and a blueberry scone to enjoy on the plane. We had a loving family hug in a small corner, said our goodbyes, and I went into line to check in. I would have thought my huge bag of camera gear with the various lenses, accessories, laptop, and external hard drive would have caused a long delay at the x-ray machine but that went through without a hitch. The part that did cause a delay was my yogurt parfait. "This is not a solid," says the TSA agent with a cold robotic face, "You will have to surrender it in order to pass through the security check," he said handing me my yogurt parfait. Translation: "You get to throw away the yogurt parfait you just bought because that's what I've been trained to tell all of the unfortunate travelers who thought they could buy unreasonably priced food and take it on the plane with them." I mean seriously. Did I put C4 in my unsuspecting Starbucks yogurt parfait? No! That's absurd! Oh the world we live in. Anyways, enough with my rant about traveling. It's really not THAT bad and it comes with the territory. I could save my money and spend it on other things if it really bothers me that much. I will just be happy to have finally arrived in Haiti. I can't wait to get on the ground and start work on this project.

Here's a little bit about what I'm thinking the day before I arrive. What I do know is:
  • I will be in Haiti from 12/28-1/14.
  • I will be doing both still and video photography of Haitians making a difference.
  • I will be working with, and for, the Haitian people I have learned to love and respect.
  • I will be speaking Haitian Creole more than English.
  • I will be working with a handful of other photojournalists as part of the Nap Kenbe Project (www.napkenbe.org).
  • I will be warmer in Haiti than in Kansas. Seasonally the temperature is between 65 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit. When I land in Port-au-Prince it's supposed to be 85!!!
  • I will be in Haiti to experience my first Haitian Independence Day (January 1st) and will be in Haiti for the anniversary of the earthquake that has so changed Haiti forever (January 12th).
There are several more unknowns in this trip though. I have no idea where in Haiti I will be except for the first and last days of my trip. I have no idea if Haiti will finally elect a new President. I have no idea how bad the cholera outbreak really is. I don't really have a clear idea of what groups or individuals I will be photographing. I don't really even know what the end product of the Nap Kenbe Project will look like. I know we are wanting to make a documentary and hopefully submit it to film festivals like the Sundance Film Festival, but I have no idea how that can or will happen. Hopefully the morning will answer at least a few of the unknowns.

I'm going to try to get some sleep now. Just imagine how difficult that can be with some guy Kenny G-in' it up on the intercom. If you don't know what that means, just watch this video from Mike Birbiglia. Skip to the 3:20 mark and watch at least until the 5:00 mark. If you want to hear the whole story it starts in Part 10. Please watch it. You will laugh and enjoy it. I promise!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

New family tradition?

For the second year in a row, Adam will spend half of January in Haiti (and the tail end of December too). Everett and I will not be joining him on this year's adventure, which we pray will not be nearly as exciting as last time. We knew we would go back to Haiti, we just assumed it wouldn't be so soon (school, new baby, no money....you know). On Thanksgiving, Adam was reading a photography blog, which talked about a project being put together to raise awareness about Haiti leading up to the anniversary of the earthquake. It asked for donations and requested a small number of photographers/videographers to travel to Haiti to document the project. It was the perfect project for Adam, so he contacted the guy that day, spoke with him the next, and then joined the team! We have felt that same peace about this trip that we had about our previous, so despite it being Haiti (cholera, riots with UN, crazy elections, etc.), we still feel good about his going. AND, the project takes care of all the costs in country, we just had to buy Adam's plane tickets. In a continuation of Haiti miracles, after contacting Air France, Adam was able to get a full refund on our tickets that we voided last January. Wa hoo! We had been told right after the earthquake that they could give us a one-way travel voucher and that was it, so this was a pleasant and much needed surprise. Anyway...if you enjoyed our previous travelog on Haiti, keep your eyes here from December 27 - January 15. I have made Adam promise that he will keep a detailed account every day, no matter how tired he is (more for us than for anything...but we were certainly surprised by how many people actually read our vvvvvvery long posts last trip!). We've started practicing using Skype with Adam and Everett. Everett doesn't really get it yet....he's more concerned with how to get the keyboard into his mouth, but at least that makes for a cute video for Adam! We will definitely miss him while he is gone, but my sister Rachel will stay with us and we know Adam is doing a good thing.

In other big news, my little baby is going to be six months on Tuesday! I've been waiting until then to start him on solid foods, but this kid is definitely getting ready! He will stop whatever he is doing when we are eating and just stare at us putting food or drink in our mouth. It makes it quite difficult at breakfast when Everett is nursing and insists on pulling away to watch me put every single bite of cereal in my mouth. It's like a big surprise to him every single time I do it....which is a lot for a bowl of cereal. I've been giving him a baby spoon to hold and chew on and we've been "practicing" taking bites on it....this kid puts up with a lot with me as his mother!

We got family pictures taken in November and will be posting more of them on Facebook, but here are a couple of ones we really liked. Thanks to Amber of BellaRay Photography for the great work - she took our engagement and wedding pictures, so it's only fitting she took our first family photo!

On my desk at work...love those eyes!

Adam gave me a hard time for how much thought I put into our "coordinating but not matching" outfits. I think they work.

It's very typical (and cute) for Everett to be doing something crazy with his mouth.

I love my boys...even when Everett is mean mugging the camera!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Loves his daddy!

Proof. Warning: Stinkin' cute adorable baby alert.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

My 12-4.

I spend two hours in a car, Monday-Friday. That's not too exciting. I spend four hours with ten 2-5 year olds, Monday-Friday. That can be...interesting. I always hear of first-year teachers keeping a journal of all the ridiculous and crazy things that happen to them (I haven't done that), but to be honest...I don't think it would matter how many years I teach preschool...they are just going to be full of funny things! There are so many moments that I just want to capture and share with others, but can't. Like the time a little guy showed up with two left shoes - one loafer and one sneaker. Or the girl that showed up on "Wear Blue" day in a too-big, blue dance leotard with blue and white puffy sleeves and a sheer dance skirt. Those are the cute and funny moments. Then, there are moments like this:

Setting: Just before we go out to recess near the end of the day, we all line up and walk to the restrooms. One girl was having a particularly sassy day, army-crawling down the hallway, running back to the room, and finally somewhat walking with me to the restroom. Once she got in the stall, I thought the excitement would be over (I was a little done with her that day.). Much to my surprise, the stall opens and she scoots backwards - pants at her ankles and hands spreading her bum. She exclaimed incredulously, "Did you know that this line is ALWAYS going to be here?!" Wow. Not expecting that! I surprised myself by not laughing and just saying firmly, "You better turn that thing around and go to the bathroom, missy!" Looking back on it, I laugh a lot. I shared it at our staff meeting this week and won the prize for the best student story of the year.

We've been having parent teacher conferences this week. I have really enjoyed speaking with all of my students' parents! It kind of makes it real that I am a teacher when I hear the parents share stories from their child's perspective. An especially cute story I heard today involved a well behaved boy in my class. His mom told me today that he purposely spit in her car. After he did, and knowing that his mom was coming to the school tonight, he said, "Don't tell Miss Karen what I did. It'll be our little secret, okay?" He's also the kid that can identify all of his colors and numbers based on characters from Thomas the Tank Engine. This kid has a one track mind!

But, you know the best part of my day? Coming home to the two sweetest boys ever. Tonight was especially hard because I was gone from 12-8. I was kind of bummed that I wouldn't be able to really see Everett until he woke up at 3 AM to eat. Well, this guy must've had a bad dream or something because about 30 minutes after I got home, he started crying in his sleep and I was able to hold him and comfort him back to sleep. It is good to be home! And, one funny story about home life. Adam and I love spending the first 20 minutes of our day playing and talking with Everett. He wakes up SO happy and playful, so the three of us just stay in bed and slowly wake up to cute baby smiles. This morning I couldn't find my glasses. I am blind without them. I tried looking around my nightstand (with my face about three inches away from it), while Adam looked on the floor and in other places in our room. After searching most of the house without luck, I remembered something. I told Adam to check the floor next to the crib. Sure enough, there they were! At 3 AM this morning, I had gone into feed Everett while sitting in our glider. Well, halfway through I became so tired that I knew I couldn't stay sitting up and I was too tired to carry Everett into our bed to feed him. So, I took Everett and laid down on the floor next to the crib, fed Everett, fell asleep while doing so, and 30 minutes later, woke up enough to put Everett back in the crib and stagger back to my bed. Talk about sleepwalking and sleepfeeding! Mystery solved.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

A year and a day earlier...

It's hard to believe that it's been an entire year since the morning we took this picture:


Did we have any idea what the next year would have in store for us? Two brutal semesters, half an income, an earthquake in Haiti, three apartments in four months, a real teaching job, nine amazing months, and the past three months with the most adorable baby boy in the world. The two people in this photo don't really exist anymore (okay...we exist...but we are such different people now!). We will never go back to being "Just Adam and Karen." We are now "Adam and Karen" and "Daddy and Mommy." And that is just amazing! The whole Plan of Salvation just blows my mind at times. How awesome is it that Heavenly Father trusts Adam and I to raise one of His children during his time here on this earth. What a huge responsibility we have to care for our son who is really His son. We can already tell that the Lord has wonderful blessings and responsibilities in store for our little Everett. We love getting to know him better each day!

In our desire to capture the miracle of pregnancy, we started that day taking weekly photos and creating a journal of letters to our future child. Sadly, this only lasted until our trip to Haiti and then we stopped doing it (we just didn't make the time for it.). The really sad part is that we took all the pictures during the stage of pregnancy where there weren't huge changes from week to week! In fact...there were sometimes where we missed weeks, so we would just take two pictures in one day (I would just put in contacts, change my outfit, and change my hair...very tricky!). Maybe with our next one we will be able to keep up with it! Then again, Everett will be quite the handful by then, so no promises there!


....and those weeks did fly by!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Three months!

It's been three months, two hours, and one minute since we first met our little guy. It's crazy to think how much he has already changed and how easily Adam and I have adapted to being Mommy and Daddy. We love it! It's so fun to experience this unique stage of life. Not gonna lie, it's definitely beat everything else so far.

Luckily, we have kind of settled into our routine and are using our time wisely and enjoying every moment with Everett and each other. I feel pretty confident as a teacher and Adam is enjoying his classes this semester and staying on top of the homework. We even have plenty of time to enjoy a weekly game night with our friends! Life is good.

A couple weeks ago, my sister Rachel and her boyfriend Josh took Adam and I to the first KU football game (yes...the embarrassing one where North Dakota State beat us 6-3). It was fun to hang out with them and to eavesdrop on the couple fighting behind us (it's not like the game was any interesting...we had to find something to entertain us!). We got there during the 2nd quarter and left at the beginning of the 4th. Everett stayed at home with Grandma and Aunt Christy, but he was at the game in spirit, sporting his Jayhawk onesie.

One of my favorite times of day is right when Everett wakes up, usually around 7:30. He is just kicking, smiling, and cooing from the moment I say "Good morning!" After he eats, he just smiles and talks to us for a good 45 minutes. Plus, he's still all warm and in his footed pajamas and it doesn't get much cuter than that! This was snapped while I made Adam's lunch before school....this kid is so adorable!

Everett is definitely growing up and becoming more social. As a result, he doesn't nap as long or as well during the day. Adam has had to adjust his expectations for his time in the afternoons with Everett because this little guy just wants to play with Daddy, rather than sleep so he can study! Adam's an awesome dad and somehow gets it all done. He always knows exactly what Everett needs and is so happy that Everett is finally enjoying some rough housing! I savor my time with Everett in the mornings and in the evenings and was especially excited when Everett, after an hour of crying, fell asleep while I sang his favorite songs over the phone to him on my drive home from work. I wasn't glad he was so worked up and upset, but when I gone most of the time that he's awake, it's nice to know that he remembers, misses, and loves me.
(We caught him mid-sneeze...still pretty cute!)

Everett is loving his hands! He's been chewing and sucking on them nonstop for a while, but just this week has been able to consistently soothe himself. He's been sucking his left index and middle fingers, which is exactly what I did as a baby. He's also been grabbing onto things and bringing them to his mouth. Yay for developmental milestones!

As a result of all that sucking and chewing, he has just been a drooling machine! I love this picture- his drool, expression, and everything else about him!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Picture Explosion!

So, it continues to be way too long in between posts. Though Adam is a photographer, we haven't actually taken too many pictures of Everett. And it's not due to lack of cuteness...we just have no desire to run and grab a camera when he is cooing and smiling...we just want to interact with him! It is breathtaking how adorable he is and what joy a simple smile can bring. We will include a lot of pictures so you can see for yourself.

Updates:

Adam - He started classes in mid-August and is on campus on Tuesdays and Thursdays. He is really excited to be taking a class about Haiti (called Portrait of a Third World Country: Haiti). I am excited to read his homework along with him since it doesn't feel like homework to either of us - it's an excuse to read about the history of a country we love and feel deeply connected to! Adam was also pleasantly surprised to find that he actually enjoys his business law class. After a rough semester last spring, he is excited to be in classes he either enjoys or has the intense desire to do well in and be done with them. We learned from last year and are trying to manage our time better and be more realistic with the number of things we take on. Let's hope it works!

Karen - I've been teaching preschool for the last three weeks. Holy sassy four-year olds! I love teaching the younger kids because I wouldn't have to deal with behavior issues (or so I thought...). So far, I am being tested and challenged every day by sassy little girls who act like teenagers. It is a bit ridiculous. There are so many things that happen where I just want to stop and say, "Really?! Really?!" I come home each day with lovely tales of my adventures and wish I could just be cuddling with my baby and watch him discover the world (okay...right now he's just discovering his hands and how they fit in his mouth. But I'll take that over divas any day!). Luckily, I love my school, district, fellow teachers, and support staff. It makes all the difference

Everett - He is now 24" and 14 lbs! This little guy just grows and grows, despite his mommy having two bouts with mastitis in two months. He is smiling, cooing, laughing, rolling, pivoting, and still rocking the tummy time. We had his first rounds of immunizations yesterday and our typically laid-back baby spent 12 hours in Daddy's arms, whimpering and wailing. He couldn't be laid down without bursting into tears, so he spent last night sleeping on top of Mommy. Luckily, he seems to be doing a lot better today. He is sleeping 6-9 hours in a row at night, which means that if we aren't well-rested, it's our own fault for staying up too late! He enjoys diaper changes, especially when I sing silly songs to him - he'll just stare at my eyes and stare grinning away. It is the best thing ever.


One of his first captured smiles...spending time with Nana!

He's outgrown most of his 0-3 month clothes, but 3-6 is still a little too big! These overalls make him look pretty little (though he is our super chunk!).

He loves sitting in the Bumbo and playing with toys or just looking around...there's lots to see!

All dressed up for church! This was the morning of his baby blessing (which was an amazing experience and so beautiful...it was so nice to have family and friends there with us on such a special day!)...notice his sneaker socks! He's a pretty snazzy dresser, what can I say!

Adorable.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Any takers?

Laid-back, adorable SWM, looking for companionship and care on Thursdays from 11-5 while parents are at work and school. Must enjoy long naps, staring at lights, and tolerate diaper changes. Interested? Email my mom (karenruth{at}gmail.com).

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

One Month?!

Time is flying by waaaaay too quickly. Tomorrow Everett will be one month old, in a week from Friday we move, in two weeks from today I start work, and in less than a month Adam starts classes. Where has the summer gone?!

Well, it has gone to 8-12 feedings a day, 1-3 hours of sleep in between, two tired newbie parents, and one stinkin' cute baby that is gaining weight like crazy. That's right. We are the proud parents of an eleven pound baby. He is gaining 2-3 ounces a day when most babies gain about one ounce a day. Every time we pick him up we can feel and see how he's changed. He's staying awake for longer periods during the day and doing an AWESOME job of sleeping for long periods of time at night. He's a rock star at tummy time and puts up with me checking all of the developmental milestones each week (yay for tracking objects and turning to Mom's voice!). He shocked us both last week when he decided to roll over from his tummy to his back. We thought it might be a fluke, but he proceeded to do it seven times over the next couple days and from both directions. Our child is a genius.

I never wanted our blog to turn into a play by play of Everett's life, but to be honest...there's not much else going on! He is definitely the best thing in our lives right now (although I still absolutely love seeing Adam be a daddy). I am dreading going to work. I love that my job is half-time, but not excited about the two weeks of full-time training I have to do in August. Luckily, Adam can stay at home and take care of Everett, though I am super jealous of him. I love our days together! Seriously...I need to figure out a way that Adam, Everett, and I can just stay home together all the time and still get an income. Ideas?

Adam has been updating his website (www.thecapturedphotos.com) and Facebook business page like crazy. He also took advantage of his "free" time in June to totally revamp his accounting for his business. He's totally legit! I am definitely learning a lot about business and all the little things you have to think about. A buddy of Adam's let us use his studio space this weekend, so Adam shot some awesome pictures of our little guy. He was upset and tired for most of the shoot, but somehow Adam was able to capture these brief moments where he was calm and adorable. Emphasis on adorable.




Monday, June 28, 2010

One Week


It's amazing what a difference one week, one day, or even one second can make. Adam and I have definitely found that to be true this past week. Exactly a week ago, we were checking into the hospital after being in labor since 3:30 that morning. Though we were pregnant and knew our little guy was on our way here, we were still essentially a family of two. Our lives, schedules, and sleep patterns were our own. But, at 7:10 PM, all of that changed when this little guy emerged.


Everett Mann Buhler is named after two of his great-grandfathers and already we can sense what an amazing spirit is inside this little body. Adam and I both felt such an overwhelming feeling of love, joy, awe, and desire to protect our son from the moment we heard, saw, and held him. Adam, who had never held a baby before and was self-admittedly scared to death of infants, instantly became a father as he held his son in his arms. Over the past week he has been my constant support as we have all transitioned home from the hospital and into our new life together. I fall in love with both of them each time I come into the room and see Everett sleeping on Adam's chest or hear Adam soothing Everett in the middle of the night. I am so grateful to know that my little family will be together for all eternity....I can't picture my life any other way!


Labor and delivery was such a special and unique experience. For the first six hours of it, I wasn't sure if it was actually happening, so I kept telling myself it wasn't, so I wouldn't get my hopes up. We went about our day as normal, including a morning ultrasound and doctor's visit. I think they were a little surprised when I told them I was having contractions every 5-7 minutes. Knowing that we wanted to labor as naturally as possible, our doctor had us go home for a few more hours. We finally went to the hospital when contractions were about 2 1/2 minutes apart, though I was feeling much better than I had expected. Adam and I stayed in our own little world and groove throughout labor and when it got really intense, I just zoned everyone else out. It really was more of a mental struggle for me than a physical and I definitely learned a lot about myself through that experience! After three hours of transition, I finally got to push (I kept telling the nurse I REALLY wanted to push!) and after an hour, our little man was born! Despite the eight nurses and doctors running around the room, Adam and I were in our own little world with our new family and we enjoyed the next hour or so we had together before our immediate family came to see our new addition.


Coming home, our lives have definitely changed. Our priorities have already changed, as well as how we use our time. So much of our day (and night) is spent in caring for this little person that so many other ways to use our time seem pointless now. We are SO grateful for our family and friends who have already done so much for us. Both of our parents have brought by dinners and leftovers and Adam's mom has done countless loads of laundry for us. It's been great to see friends and family and appreciate the meals that have already been brought by. It truly is a lifesaver!

So, for now, we are enjoying being home all day as a family (minus the three hours Adam is at class) and waking up together at night. This is perfection.


Friday, June 11, 2010

Summer!

We're so glad it's finally here! Even though Adam started his summer class this week, we still were able to pack plenty of fun and hope to continue doing so for the next couple months before we have to go back to school and now a grown-up job.

Highlights of our summer so far:

Adam and I were able to travel up to Omaha to witness our friends, Rachel and Dustin, get married! It was well worth the drive and we enjoyed the company at a lunch afterwards. We immediately headed back to Kansas and made it back with 10 minutes to spare for my sister Rachel's graduation. We are so excited that she'll be at KU in the fall...it'll give us even more time to hang out with her! I'm also super excited that she got into Sellards Scholarship Hall, where I lived as an undergrad. We can't wait for her to move here!
(Adam was here as well, but he took this picture for my mom...and the picture that has him in it is on his computer...so just pretend that my cute husband is standing next to me.)


Adam and I have been enjoying the beautiful weather and going on lots of walks in our neighborhood. There are so many cute, old homes and it's fun to brainstorm and plan our future home. We've tried to spend as much time outdoors as we can, but it's getting slightly more difficult since my physical activity is becoming limited. So we walk. On Memorial Day, we tried to recreate our amazing time in Europe last summer by picking up fresh fruit and bread and just sitting at a park. I had brought a book to read and Adam brought his camera, but unfortunately, he forgot a memory card so he couldn't take pictures and we hadn't factored in the blood-thirsty mosquitoes, so our picnic was short-lived. Sad.
(Enjoying our favorite place in Paris last summer - the Luxembourg Gardens...everyone just came and laid on the grass, reading, eating, and taking naps...we fit right in! And the food there wasn't too shabby either!)


Realizing that we hadn't really taken pictures of anything since our trip to Haiti, we decided we had better get a few photos to document my very pregnant state. Neither of us are big fans of the typical maternity pictures, so we decided that Adam would just take typical portraits of me that just happened to show that I was pregnant. We headed to the alleys of downtown Lawrence and had a lot of fun! We kept joking that if anyone asked us, we would tell them I was getting my senior pictures taken. It kind of felt like that! It definitely comes in handy having a talented photographer as a husband...this little kiddo will be well documented!


Adam enjoyed his first "real" concert a few weeks ago. We had seen Flight of the Conchords last winter, but we don't think it really counted. We went with our friends Ellyn and Justin to go see Kansas, Styx, and Foreigner play at the Starlight Theater and had quite the adventure! It's always smart to have cash when you go to a concert so you can actually pay for parking...something we discovered after being stuck in event traffic and realizing that no one had cash. We eventually were able to park, found a nice spot on the grass and enjoyed an evening of good music, people watching, and trying to get comfortable (not always easy for a super tall guy and a very pregnant girl).


Last Saturday, we had a lot of fun helping a couple of our friends move. At the first house, I was packing up the kitchen while Adam mowed the huge backyard. We had had a week of major rain a while back and Adam definitely felt the brunt of that...it took almost 3 hours to mow what should've taken 30 minutes! Still, it was fun to help, so we were excited when we heard some other friends needed help moving as well. Unfortunately, Adam's phone and wallet were stolen out of our car as he was helping, but we were able to cancel everything really quickly before any damage was done (and we obviously weren't carrying cash with us either!). We've been able to work everything out and Adam has a loaner phone until he can upgrade at the end of the summer.


All of this happened about 10 minutes before I needed to head off for my baby shower, so it was an eventful afternoon! The shower was at a park in downtown Lawrence and it was so fun to see so many friends and family there. Everyone brought their favorite children's book for Baby Boy Buhler and it's been fun to read them and the notes that were written to our little guy. Plus, we were able to just enjoy each other's company and good food, without any baby shower games...I was happy! Thank you Ashley, Ali, and Katie for all your hard work! It was perfect!


For now, we are back to the daily grind. Adam has class everyday in the afternoon and homework and reading in the morning/evening. I've been working full-time and will continue until the baby comes...it gives me something to focus on besides waiting and the paycheck won't hurt either! As busy as we've been so far, I have a feeling we will have a lot more adventures with the rest of the summer!

Monday, April 5, 2010

God is Good!

Wow. So, three days after receiving this job offer and two days after posting this blog, we have already had more questions answered! Adam enrolled in classes for the summer and fall today...and his schedule gives him Monday, Wednesday, and Friday afternoons free to stay at home with our son! With how crazy his schedule has been this past year, we really weren't counting on his staying home as an option. However, all of the classes he needed were only offered on Tuesdays and Thursdays, so the answer came pretty clearly! Figuring out two days of childcare is a lot more manageable than figuring out an entire week. I know that things aren't always figured out this quickly on the Lord's timetable, but I am so grateful for His love and desire to help us feel such peace and assurance as we face the unknown - parenthood.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Real World, Here We Come!

Last year, I graduated with a degree that I couldn't use. No, it wasn't in anthropology (no offense, Bequis...) or underwater basket weaving. Unified Early Childhood Education. At most universities, when you graduate with a teaching degree, you tend to have a teaching license as well. Not at KU. Instead, they make you enroll as a graduate student to do your student teaching, which means an additional year of schooling before you can work and an increased tuition rate. Not cool. However, it has been nice not to worry about the job market this year as I've been student teaching and paying to be an intern. But, that time is slowly ending! Searching for a job is never fun, but add the budget cuts at all the area school districts and the fact that we are having a baby this summer and it can get pretty stressful pretty quickly! Luckily, our time in Haiti helped us relearn to rely on the Lord, move forward, and trust that everything will work out in His time. So, that's been our perspective during the past few months! Already, so many questions have been answered. We found a bigger apartment with enough room for the baby this summer, this morning we signed a lease with the apartment complex we really wanted to move into more permanently, and we've already heard good news in the job department! I had heard of a half-time teaching position from one of my classes and randomly decided to apply for it. I had a screening interview a week later and a follow-up interview two weeks after that. Since then, it's been a month of waiting, knowing that they have contacted my references, and more waiting. Well, last night at 6:45 the assistant superintendent called me to offer me the job (I didn't realize they could call that late...I had already resigned myself to another week of waiting)! Adam and I had previously talked a lot about the position, so I was able to accept it on the spot and will be signing the contract on Monday. Wahoo!

This job feels right for a number of reasons. The biggest one is that it is half-time. I've never been excited about working when I have a family, but our circumstances for the time being pretty much require it. But, with this job, I can work half the hours and we'll still have our needs met. That means I can be home most of the day with our little guy! Second of all, it's in a field that I love. While I am certified to teach age 0-8, I'm not a huge fan of elementary gen. ed. classrooms. This classroom is an early childhood special education classroom! I'll have 12 four-year olds, six with identified needs and six who will be peer models. Plus, I'll have two paras working with me, so the adult-child ratio is awesome! My first experience with special education was in a similar classroom, so I'm getting excited. My class will be from 12:30-3:30, Monday to Thursday, and Friday is reserved for planning, training, and meetings. Awesome. The school district sounds amazing and they have a bunch of supports set in place for new teachers. There are a couple downsides - it's in Gardner (which will add almost two hours to the time I have to be away from home). And....okay, the only other one I could think of is the fact that I have to be away from home at all (but that's not this job's fault!). So, all in all, we are very grateful and blessed to already know in April our financial and employment situation for next year.

Now, the last question we need to figure out is childcare for the time I'm away during the afternoons. Any other moms planning on working part-time and want to figure out a swap? I'm trying to keep my mind open for all sorts of possibilities and solutions, since I know the Lord is wanting us to do as much as we can to figure it out! But, I definitely know that He will help us figure out the best solution! Now it's just remembering patience as we wait to know what that solution is!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Spring Fever

After the longest winter ever, we are so glad to finally have some gorgeous weather here! We have both noticed that we tend to be more productive on the days that are sunny (rather than the rainy, dreary ones we had all last week). This semester has been incredibly busy for us - we are often away from our apartment from 8 AM to 9 PM. Over spring break we packed up our one-bedroom, 350 sq. ft. apartment on campus and moved five minutes away into a two-story, two bedroom, two bath apartment, complete with a dishwasher (and kitchen that doesn't double as a hallway!). Thanks to Adam, his parents, the Elders, and some guys from our ward, we made the move in less than two and a half hours. And, after two days, thanks in part to my love for organizing and heightened nesting instinct, we were completely unpacked with pictures on the wall! We have already enjoyed having friends and family over to enjoy the larger living space. Part of the excitement of our new place is the second bedroom that is now complete with a crib! I bribed Adam to wake up early one spring break morning by making German pancakes with fresh strawberries....once he was awake, I made him help me set up the crib! He feels a little tricked because he just realized that the baby probably won't even sleep in the crib until he's six weeks old (and by that time, we'll be moved into a different apartment). Oh well! You can't NOT set up the crib! Especially when it has such cute bedding!


We have had quite the baby boom in our ward the past couple months. We decided to document a piece of that:
All four of us are expecting boys, about a month apart from each other (the first two have already had their babies and Baby Wood could make his appearance at any time now!). Sadly, Katie was out of town when we took the picture - she's expecting a girl a couple weeks after our baby arrives. Still, it's been fun to attend and plan baby showers and even more exciting to meet the newest (and cutest) members of our ward as they arrive. Hard to believe that Baby Buhler will be here in 10-12 weeks!

And, in other news...the fundraising efforts for PAZAPA have been successful! SRO raised over $3500 from donations and ticket sales and Jardine Middle School raised $1300 selling puppy chow (that's right....they sold 2600 bags of puppy chow for 50 cents each...you gotta love middle schoolers!). Obviously, the PAZAPA needs a lot more, but I am so impressed by the efforts of these students who have little or no connection to Haiti. How awesome. (PAZAPA updated their website - check it out!)

One last Haiti note. For those of you interested in hearing more about our experiences in Haiti before/during/after the earthquake, we will be speaking on Sunday, April 11th in Lawrence. We are planning on sharing pictures of our adventures and sharing more about our eventful two weeks. Please come! It will be at the LDS chapel (3655 W 10th St....right off of Kasold Dr.) at 7 PM. It's hard to believe that it has almost been three months since our trip. Really...we would love to have you come.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Looking for something to do this weekend?

Look no further! I highly recommend going to Topeka High's SRO (student run organization...their annual talent show). It's always pretty amazing, but this year they are donating part of the proceeds to rebuilding PAZAPA! My sister Rachel is the co-director of the show and put it all together...take a look at the news article about it here.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

It's been a while...

It's a bit daunting to write a blog post now - how will we ever compare with our previous entries?! Fortunately for us, life has just continued as busy as ever and we are just trying to keep up. I'll be making three presentations this week in Topeka about our experiences and PAZAPA and gearing up for Topeka High's fundraising efforts through SRO, the student-run talent show. We'll post more details as it gets closer.

In the meantime, I ran across an article about Marika, the director of PAZAPA. I think it gives a really good idea of what they are dealing with in Jacmel right now. Click here for the link.

And in non-Haiti news, we found out last week that Baby Buhler is a boy! And no, Angus is not really in the running for names.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

One last (amazing!) article

Here's another link to the LDS Church News that called for a phone interview.



(It's our favorite.)

You're invited...

Adam and I would really love to see everyone that has been following our journey (even if you've just glanced through the posts....we know....they're pretty long!). Feel free to stop by this Saturday at an open house here in Lawrence. It is open to anyone, so even if we don't know you very well (or at all), that's totally cool! We will provide some punch and dessert, but please bring something to share (it doesn't have to be a lot)!

Here are the details:
Saturday, January 23, 2010
7:00 - 10:00 PM
Lawrence Institute of Religion building
1629 W. 19th St. (across from the KU soccer fields)
*Parking is limited, so if the lot is full, just park on a side street.*
Lawrence, KS 66044

If you have any questions, feel free to email me at karenruth@gmail.com.

Thanks! We hope to see you there!

Telling our story

Adam and I were interviewed last night for the University Daily Kansan. They incorporated that interview with some of the pictures and video we took while in Haiti. It was nice to actually describe what happened, knowing that it was in our words and without playing "Telephone" with the press (which is why we have been said to be in Haiti building a school, a church, and a "handicapped orphanage" - don't trust everything you read!).

Click here for the brief story of how we were able to (miraculously) leave Jacmel.

Click here for Part 1 of our video interview.

Click here for Part 2 of our video interview.

We just heard this morning that there has been a 6.1 aftershock in Haiti. It has been over a week now since the initial earthquake and we fear that this will affect just as many people. After a week, people were starting to feel more comfortable in their homes (if they were still standing) and we are not looking forward to hearing how much devastation this aftershock has brought. Please continue to keep the Haitian people in your prayers. I am speaking with someone from Pazapa today about fundraising, so hopefully I will be able to pass on vital information to everyone who has been following our experiences. My dad shared a quote with us this week, which really hit home. Hopefully it does for you too!

"I can't do everything about everyone everywhere, but I can do something for someone somewhere." - Richard L. Evans

Monday, January 18, 2010

Home at Last!

Somehow, with all the craziness that this last week brought, Adam and I flew back to Kansas today on our original flight to come home. We were supposed to fly out of Port-au-Prince on Sunday night, spend the night in Miami, then fly home Monday afternoon. Clearly, that first part didn't happen. But, it was nice to have a direct flight home that we had already paid for (and didn't have to eat the cost of it like our return flight from Haiti. Not huge fans of Air France right now - they cancelled all of their flights in and out of Haiti indefinitely and will only give us a nonrefundable, nontransferable flight voucher that expires in a year. Too bad the nearest airports they fly out of are San Francisco, Miami, or New York.). After so many miracles, you would think we would be able to make it back on our own. But no. The Lord stepped in once again to answer even our smallest prayer. We left Haiti with about 8,000 gourdes (about $200 USD). We know it's not a huge amount, but to us...it's pretty substantial. The airport in the DR wouldn't exchange it, so we were hoping to find one in Ft. Lauderdale that would. About an hour before our flight took off, Adam went to find the currency exchange booth at the Ft. Lauderdale Airport. We were in Terminal One, it was in Terminal Four (which you had to take a shuttle to get to). The entire time he was gone I prayed that he would be able to make it back in time so we wouldn't miss our direct flight home. Five minutes before they started boarding, he came rushing back in. When he finally found the booth, there was a sign saying it would be closed until 11 AM (our flight left at 11:30). Adam became slightly discouraged, but sat down to wait a while. He overheard a man talking about going to Haiti, so he approached him. The man was flying to Cap Haitien and Adam explained that we had quite a bit of Haitian currency and the man bought our money from us! At a much better price than the airport would have! We were so happy and grateful that there are such good people out there...and they all seem to be on our side. Another little miracle - we had forgotten to check in online to Southwest until an hour before our flight, so we were pretty sure we'd be in Boarding Group Z. However, when we got our boarding passes, we were in group A, numbers 24 and 25! We checked with each of our parents and none of them had checked us in. So...whoever did - thank you! We were able to sit next to each other on a very emotional flight.

Our flight landed in KCI 20 minutes early. Adam was pretty sure his parents would still be there, but I predicted my family was still parking (but had welcome home signs). We were one of the first off the planes - and no one was there. We waited about 10 minutes and finally our families came. By that time, two news crews from Kansas City were already there and in the process of interviewing us, but it was so exciting to hug our families! We had good interviews where we tried to focus on helping the people of Haiti. We also had another tv crew come by this evening, along with two different newspaper interviews. We feel like we should have just held a press conference or something! We're grateful that we have had some time to reflect on our experiences and hope that we can use this attention for good. We're including some of the reports that have been done already and we already have connections for when we are advertising about fundraising for Pazapa.

NBC Action News

KCTV 5

Initial UDK article

Initial LJ World article

WIBW interview - You'll have to click on a link, then search for our video.

Second LJWorld article

LJWorld Interview and Channel 6 News

Kansan interview

Kansan photo gallery

After staying up way too late to watch the 10:00 news, we finally were able to make our way back to our little home. Our 350 sq. ft. apartment has always seemed too small and almost unbearable, but after seeing how so many people live in Haiti, even before the earthquake, it's hard to be anything but grateful for it. It is clean, safe, and we have indoor plumbing and consistent electricity. We have two separate rooms, a bathroom, and full kitchen (not going to lie...that is still really small!). We have closets full of clothes and a home full of things. Things that really aren't at all important. Adam's mom surprised us by having our refrigerator and pantry full of good, healthy food - complete with enough meals for the week. She left paper plates, bowls, and cups that we have promised we will use all this week so we can take it easy. So much love continues to be shown to us! One of the best feelings last night was getting into our own clean pajamas and climbing into our own clean bed. Our family prayer was full of so much gratitude. What more can we ask for ourselves?! We are still pleading for those in Haiti to get the resources and peace that they so badly need, but we definitely feel that we can take a backseat now. We've seen more miracles in just a few short weeks than some may seem in a lifetime. It is completely evident that God is in the details of our lives. We still can't get over the timing of everything. All the events leading up to the earthquake made it possible for us to be in a safe place when it hit and get the help we needed to stay safe during all the aftermath. This little kiddo must be somebody pretty special!

***I just found a number of videos about the destruction in Jacmel, made by the Cine Institute (Haiti's only film institute, based in Jacmel). They are incredibly painful to watch, but give a very real understanding of what the earthquake has meant to the town of Jacmel. There's none of this dramatic, sensational journalism that Adam and I continue to see on US news stations. This is it. This is real. Click here for the videos.***

A Mother's Point of View

My mom has a blog for the Topeka Capital-Journal and her entry from this past week was about our experience in Haiti (big surprise, huh!). If you're interested in reading her perspective, here's the link. Again, it was pretty hard to read all the thoughts and worries that she had during those first 14 hours before we could get in contact, but it definitely makes her experience more real to me. I cannot express how excited I am to see our families at the airport tomorrow! I am going to cry like a big baby, which will unfortunately be captured by video for the evening news...not cute.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

The Transition Home

Well, we have been in the US of A for the last 48 hours. Once again, time has been completely distorted. The past two days have flown by, while the three days we spent in the UN compound seem like they lasted forever. It's been a surreal experience and our time in Haiti already feels like a dream. We're still trying to process everything that we went through, but I think it's going to take quite some time. However, this weekend has been a good start! Adam's sister Amelia and her husband Joel drove six hours to meet us in Ft. Lauderdale yesterday and we've spent the weekend with them. It's been so interesting to hear their experiences in the last week. To be honest, I think Adam and I had a much easier time than our families back home. It's really hard to learn that your parents were starting to worry about your deaths or safety, especially when we really were protected. I'm glad that our story has a happy ending, but unfortunately, so many do not. There are so many unanswered questions and missing people...it's so difficult to even imagine. One thing that we continue to remind ourselves as we see pictures of the mass graves is that these people are not forgotten. We know that our Heavenly Father knows each and everyone of His children. He knows who each one of those unidentified people are and loves them and cares for them. Knowing that this life isn't the end definitely helps soften the enormous burden that this disaster has placed on so many.

Last night I was trying to find information about the other refugees that were in the UN compound with us. I found a news report from Chicago where Sue's mother was interviewed. Having met Sue and been with her as she learned of her best friend's death, the interview was especially touching. Adam and I were trying to figure out a way to get in contact with her mother so we could let her know how amazing and strong Sue has been through such a difficult tragedy. Imagine our surprise and delight when we received a phone message from her mother! It turns out that she had a friend from Topeka, KS visiting her in Chicago who knew my mother, knew we had been in Jacmel, and was able to contact us to find out about Sue. It was so good to talk with her and relay any information that could be helpful. Jacmel is so isolated from the rest of the country right now because of the destroyed roads and communication lines, but Sue needs to return home and is bringing the remains of her friend. We have a few contacts that we are trying to make and we gave her mother a few possibilities that our families were going to pursue to reach us. Please keep Sue and her family in your prayers that she too will be able to return home.

We also received an email from Marianne, one of our amazing Danes. They are now safely home! We're not sure when or how they left, but it was so good to know that they are no longer stuck in Jacmel. They had lost everything, except the clothes on their back, but they were so generous and caring. It was hard on Friday night to be at a hotel with a king-sized bed, room service, and no threat of aftershocks when we knew everyone we left was still sleeping on a mat outside, eating nutritional biscuits. And even now that they are safe, there are hundreds of thousands of Haitians that have lost their homes, families, and are lacking in food and water. Through trials, we've never really asked ourselves, "Why me?" but we are definitely asking ourselves "Why us?!" as we have experienced so many miracles and so much protection and safety when so many others are suffering. It's hard. We're just hoping to do as much as we can to help as many people as we can.

We were hoping to go to the Haitian branch in Ft. Lauderdale for church today, but were sad to find out that it no longer exists. Instead, we went to two different wards for their meetings and were able to see many people from Adam's mission. Each Haitian family we spoke with was waiting to hear news and we offered the best advice and support we could. I think the highlight of our weekend was meeting Erick's brother and sister. We gave them the biggest hugs and told them how much Erick meant to us. It is so good to know that Erick and his family are safe! There are other happy endings! We also found out that the church building in Port-au-Prince is still standing (which is another miracle...it's just down the street from where the Palace collapsed) and many church members are staying there now since they lost their homes. I still wonder and worry about all the missionaries that are serving in areas affected by the earthquakes - and their families! I just pray that they are all safe and protected.

We got locked out of our room twice tonight, but it gave us a chance to speak with one of the hotel employees. She had family in Haiti and we were able to really relate to what her thoughts and feelings were about the earthquake. We are grateful that we had been in Haiti before the earthquake hit, so we have a sort of baseline of the people, lifestyle, and culture. I think that helps us better understand the reactions we see on the news or the information we read. We're beginning to realize that as traumatizing as this experience has been, we needed to be in Haiti when this happened. We needed to witness this firsthand so that we can know how to better help those in need. We have always had a connection to Haiti because of Adam's mission, but we definitely feel that we have left part of us in Haiti. We don't know what all we are needed to do in Haiti, but we definitely feel like we can help in small ways, especially with Pazapa. We just received news that they will continue the program and will rebuild if necessary. As soon as we return to Kansas, I plan on meeting with the Dept. of Special Education to figure out the best way to raise funds. My mom wants to even contact Oprah! We'll see. Every little bit helps.